Florida Women's Soccer Coach Tony Amato Fired After Player Complaints About Behavior

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 27, 2022

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Official UEFA Women's  Champions League match balls lined up ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg One match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at City of Manchester Stadium on April 26, 2022 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)
Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

The University of Florida fired women's soccer coach Tony Amato on Wednesday amid player complaints about his conduct.

Florida athletics director Scott Stricklin released a statement saying there was "a disconnect between [Amato] and his athletes": 

"This decision was extremely difficult. My thorough evaluation of the soccer program is that there is a disconnect between Tony and his athletes. We have worked diligently with Tony since last fall when I first became aware of challenges with relationship building and communication. As the issues continued to be brought to my attention, it became apparent that sufficient progress was not being made and Tony was not a fit for the University of Florida. Therefore, it is my assessment that in order to have the program we all expect, this change is necessary. I appreciate Tony's hard work during his time here and wish he and his family the best.

"I fully recognize the disruption this causes our athletes and our program. We all wanted this to work, but ultimately it is my responsibility to do what is in the best long-term interest of this program, and thus this decision. We are totally committed to having an outstanding soccer program. I assure everyone this is extremely important to all of us as we begin the search for our new coach."

Several Florida players have announced their intention to leave the program since Amato took over last May. 

According to Payton Titus of WUFT, an investigative report into Amato's behavior was set to be published later this week.

Players said Amato made derogatory comments about their bodies and eating habits over the course of the season, per Titus. After receiving complaints from players and coaches, Strickland promised an investigation into the matter.

It's unclear if Amato's firing was a result of that investigation, which the school never announced publicly.

One former Florida player said she developed an eating disorder while playing for Amato.

“I know I’m in no way, shape or form fat, but it was like, you could see who he played versus who he didn’t play," the player told Titus. "And every single person was just stick-thin. And the comments about eating got to me."

Amato also allegedly had players adhering to a strict diet and would criticize them if they were seen eating anything he deemed unhealthy.

Several players at Amato's former stop at Arizona also said he was demanding and made demeaning comments, leading to a high transfer rate, according to Titus. Amato coached at Arizona from 2013 to 2021.